The dramatic introduction to the PBS series on "Evolution"
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Evolution" is as much about the profound impact the evolutionary process has had on our understanding of the world around us as it is on the various versions of the theory that have been expounded in scientific textbooks for the past century. The series basically focuses on five key concepts regarding evolution, sandwiched between episodes that constitute a dramatic introduction and a controversial coda. "Darwin's Dangerous Idea," the first episode in the "Evolution" series, offers dramatizations of key moments in Darwin's life along with contemporary talking heads explaining the profound implications of the evolutionary theory and the place it holds in the scientific community today as a pivotal concept. It takes a while to adjust to the episodic approach of the dramatizations, which come and go without a real sense of regularity, but since they dramatized the famous retort of Huxley to Bishop Wilberforce and other key moments in the popularization of evolution there is a certain effectiveness to it all. What you get from this episode is a better idea of what the initial complaints were to evolutionary theory and who was making them. In other words, this is more history and politics than science, which is fine, because that allows us to move from what we know about evolution, the controversy, to what we do not understand, the scientific theories covered under that highly charged term. "Darwin's Dangerous Idea" can stand on its own (the first time I caught it on television I did not know it was the introduction to a series), but it really should just whet your appetite for the rest of the episodes."
A respectable man comes up with a dangerous but brilliant id
Stephen Pletko | London, Ontario, Canada | 05/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If I were to give a prize for the single best idea anybody ever had, I'd give it to Darwin for the idea of natural selection, ahead of Newton, ahead of Einstein, because his idea unites the two most disparate features of our universe: the world of purposelessness, meaningless matter and motion on the one side and the world of meaning and purpose and design on the other."
The above quotation is found at the beginning of this fascinating docudrama that traces the genius, torment, and secrets of Charles Darwin (1809 to 1882) beginning after the time he came back from a trip to islands that sparked his thinking. It documents how he developed his theory and why his theory is so relevant in today's society as well as the future. Through astounding dramatized sequences and footage of solid scientific research today, Darwinism is made clearly understandable and brought into sharp focus.
It should be mentioned that this film is the first and most important in a seven program series titled "Evolution." This program alone is for those who do not want to shell out the $90.00 (the price at the time this review was written) for the entire boxed set series and want to understand the important but often misunderstood basics of Darwin's theory.
The dramatic sequences are well done with the actors doing an excellent job. I was amazed by the recreation of mid-1800's England. The science sequences are narrated by actor Liam Neeson. Brief comments are made throughout the science sequences by such people as university professors, biologists, researchers, and biographers. Exquisite animation is used to highlight important concepts.
This program as a whole explains important concepts such as common ancestry, the tree of life, natural selection, mutation, and complexity. It even examines God and religion.
Finally, the DVD itself (the one released in 2002) is perfect in picture and sound quality. It allows for access to an Internet site.
In conclusion, if you want to understand Charles Darwin and his revolutionary theory, then this is the film to see!!!
(2001; 2hr; made for TV ("Nova"); wide screen; 12 scenes; closed captioned)